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Dr. James Tunnell
Cancer Research at UT: A solid foundation for a medical school

Biomedical Professor Creates Device That Replaces Biopsies

You’ve been putting off seeing your doctor about that strange mole on your back. The possibility of melanoma is terrifying enough. But what you really dread is the biopsy. And the anxious days awaiting the results.

The standard method of detecting skin cancer can be painful, invasive and scarring. Not to mention expensive.

That prompted Dr. James Tunnell, associate professor of biomedical engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, to explore new technologies that would make the test for skin cancer quick, painless and affordable. He developed a pen-sized instrument that uses light pulses to capture information from the skin.

“Within a second,” Tunnell says, “it can take a measurement and tell you whether or not it's cancer.”

The device is undergoing clinical trials in Texas, and when it becomes available, it will dramatically change the patient’s experience — and make checking that mole a lot less daunting.

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